New tool to protect journalists against online violence

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

The Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF) has launched an online tool for journalists to document and manage online harassment and abuse.

Developed in partnership with Google’s Jigsaw, TRFilter syncs with a user's Twitter account and uses machine learning technology to recognise and flag harmful comments.

It’s been designed to limit a journalist’s exposure to abusive content and also hide, block, or mute comments at scale, without having to review them. They can also create and download reports to share with a third party.

According to a recent report from UNESCO women are disproportionately affected when it comes to harassment, with nearly 3/4 of women journalists having experienced online violence; threats including physical and sexual violence, and death threats.

“After months of work alongside our partner, Jigsaw, I am excited to launch access to a tool that will empower journalists and media practitioners targeted by online violence around the world,” said Chief Executive Office of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Antonio Zappulla.

“Journalists’ mission of accurate and independent reporting is integral to the survival of a democratic society. It is imperative they have access to practical solutions that match the rapid evolution of the digital and legal warfare used to silence them.

“The Foundation’s extensive experience of collaboration with global partners, combined with our unique ability to leverage the twin engines of media and the law, places us at the centre of international expertise to support media freedom and defend human rights. We will continue to work tirelessly to protect journalists and the future of independent media, to strengthen free, fair and informed societies.”

Last year, TRF partnered with UNESCO, the International Women's Media Foundation and the International News Safety Institute to develop a range of practical and legal tools for journalists, media managers and newsrooms to address the challenges experienced by reporters and media workers and strengthen responses to online and offline harassment.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the corporate foundation of Thomson Reuters, the global news and information services company.

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